The Future of Autonomous Driving

The evolving of technology is opening more and more doorways to a new way of life. Although the Internet began life in a primitive state, it has become one of the main features of our daily life. Regardless of whether we’re looking to stay in touch with friends, or create a brand online, the Internet has proven to be an innovation we couldn’t do without.

While driverless car may seem like dystopia to some, it’s simply showcases of how far we’ve come when it comes to new ways of travelling. The introduction of electric vehicles has showcased how a simple tweak to a conventional mode of transport introduces a slew of benefits, such as a healthier environment, and less reliance of fossil fuel.

Cloud technology is something else that has offered numerous businesses a more productive way of working. Those looking to collaborate on a project no longer must be in the same room, they can share ideas and make amendments in real time. As such, it should come as no surprise that similar technology will be used to craft the future of autonomous driving.

The Idea Behind Autonomous Driving

Although it would be easy to assume that driving is best left to the humans, the idea behind driverless cars is to offer one of the safest forms of transport available. To be able to do this, those manufacturing driverless cars must ensure that their vehicle operates in a more foresighted way than any human ever could.

How Is This Achieved?

Autonomous driving is made possible by employing different technologies that will work in conjunction with each other.

The use of ultrasonic sensors imitates the natural navigation process of bats. Ultrasonic waves detect the location of nearby obstacles and feed this back to the vehicle. Ultrasonic waves would be used frequently when the car is being parked.

Image sensors essentially capture of a 3D image of the surrounding the environment, and are also used to detect fonts and colours, meaning that the sensors are also used for the reading of traffic lights.

Radar systems have been used in the past for plane and ship navigation and employ the use of electromagnetic waves. When these waves detect an obstacle, the distant of the obstacle can be determined in real-time. The sensors can also detect the speed of vehicles to ensure the vehicle is able to respond in the right way in the fastest time possible.

Lidar sensors use a non-visible beam that scans the environment and visualises the environment.

Although the sensors offer similar solutions the fact that they work in different ways ensures that should one method fail, then in most instances, there will be a backup solution in place.

The Use of Cloud Technology

Cloud technology essentially ties everything together. Although the sensors onboard a driverless car are effective, in most instances, they won’t have a reach of more than 250 metres. This is where cloud technology takes the baton and can offer the vehicle data of what lies ahead, allowing for adjustments to be made.

The combined us of this technology allows for a more through and detailed analysis of the environment, allowing a vehicle to respond in a proactive way. This is because the element of risk and doubt are omitted from the process, and the actions taken are based on real-time occurrences.

Current Issues with Autonomous Driving

Although the technology associated with driverless vehicles are evolving every day, this isn’t to say that manufactures don’t face obstacles when it comes to implementing the technology effectively.

For example, the image sensors currently being used would benefit from a 250-meter range, as this will allow he vehicle to be more proactive when anticipating upcoming obstacles. Current algorithm also need improvement, as the current recognition rates stands at 95%. Although high, such technology needs to be 100 percent effective.

There are also the cost implications to consider. Although driverless cars will serve a purpose, they also need to be attractive to the consumer, which means keeping production costs as low as possible. However, the manufacturing of LIDAR sensors requires the use of rare earth metals, which are of course expensive. However, there is work being carried out more advanced sensors, so it’s possible a more affordable solution could be used, while being just as effective.

Another fork in the road for the industry is that the cloud technology currently being used is not yet precise enough to be used in rural areas or the motorway, which essentially means its use is limited in its current form.

Is There a Future for Autonomous Driving? 

When reading the teething problems, the industry currently faces, it would be easy to assume that the industry is in some form of crisis, but nothing could be further from the truth. When looking at the industry, it can be compared to the smartphone demographic, in that there is always a new way of how technology and software work together.

Many see driving as part of their independence, and the use of driverless cars could potentially change the lives of many, as well as looking to make the driving of a vehicle a safe endeavour as a whole.

In the United Kingdom, it is envisioned that driverless cars will be a part of everyday life by 2021. There is so much confidence in this vision that the Autumn Budget pledged £150 million towards staff training and self-driving research.

Although there are challenges that need to be met when it comes to autonomous driving, the confidence invested in the sector and the funds being pledged means that there is very little reason as to why an effective solution can’t be put in place by 2021

Rob Pritchard

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